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Study highlights scale of field trials for bovine TB vaccine
As many as 100,000 cattle would be needed to show the effect of a vaccine on bTB transmission.
Researchers propose smaller, natural transmission experiments

New research has highlighted the cost and scale of field trials for bovine TB (bTB).

Writing in the journal eLife, researchers show that as many as 100,000 cattle would be needed to show the effect of a vaccine on bTB transmission. They suggest that this scale and cost could be dramatically reduced by using smaller, less expensive experiments.

“We already know that the BCG vaccine has the potential to protect cattle from bovine TB infection,” explains first author Dr Andrew Conlan from the University of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine. “Our results highlight the enormous scale of trials that would be necessary to evaluate BCG alongside continuing testing in the field.

“Such trials would be hugely expensive, and it isn’t even clear whether enough farms could be recruited.”

The researchers propose a natural transmission experiment that involves housing a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated cattle with a number of infected cattle. They argue that such an experiment could show the efficacy of vaccination, using as little as 200 cattle.

In the UK, the bTB strategy is to ‘test and slaughter’ infected animals. Whilst the BCG vaccine does exist, it can cause some cattle to test positive falsely.

The BCG vaccine is currently banned in Europe. However, the European Union has stated that it would consider relaxing its laws if the UK government could show that a vaccine is effective on farms.

“If we could consider replacing test-and-slaughter with vaccination, then the economics becomes much more attractive particularly in lower income countries,” explained professor James Wood, head of Cambridge’s department of veterinary medicine.

“Then we would no longer need to carry out expensive testing, but could instead rely on passive surveillance through the slaughterhouses.”

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Sale of microbeads now banned

News Story 1
 The sale of products containing microbeads is now banned across England and Scotland, Defra has confirmed.

As part of government efforts to prevent these plastics ending up in the marine environment, retailers can no longer sell rinse-off cosmetics and personal care products containing microbeads. These tiny plastics were often added to products including face scrubs, soaps, toothpaste and shower gels.

Just a single shower is thought to send 100,000 of these beads down the drain and into the ocean, where it can cause serious harm to marine life. A ban on manufacturing products containing microbeads previously came into force in January this year. 

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News Shorts
George Eustice announces funding for Bovine Viral Diarrhoea

Farming minister George Eustice has announced a 5.7million funding package to help farmers tackle Bovine Viral Diarrhoea (BVD).

The funding will be available in England for three years through the Rural Development Programme and farmers will be able to apply for one-to-one farm advisory visits by a veterinary practitioner.

The project will recruit local vets who will then work with keepers of breeding cattle to tackle BVD on their farms.